Whatever we’re doing we should do it ‘to an audience of One’, says Sheffield minister.

Stadiums stand empty all across our region.With major sports venues closed to spectators, perhaps for another six months, we are starting to get used to seeing vast empty banks of seats and hearing the echoes from the few participants who are permitted to take the field.

Saturday, 26th September 2020, 12:30 pm
Sheffield Wednesday in action against Middlesbrough against a backdrop of empty seats at Hillsborough Stadium

Personally, I’m a football fan.

Have you noticed how Premier League or Championship footballers when playing in our deserted stadiums still act identically to how they used to?

They seem to go through exactly the same motions and the same goal celebrations, running to the corner flag arms in the air to take the acclaim.

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The Reverend Nick Allan

It’s fascinating. Perhaps they are more aware of the TV cameras than the live crowd?

But I suspect it has become second-nature to them.

It got me thinking about authenticity and integrity.

What are you and I like behind closed doors?

It’s tempting to put on a mask, or behave in a certain way when we’re in company or crowds.

The challenge is to act consistently when nobody is watching.

I’m a Christian and we have a phrase that captures this sense, that whatever we’re doing we should do it ‘to an audience of One’.

Jesus said the same: “Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others…when you give to someone in need, don’t announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do on the streets, to call attention to their acts of charity!

“Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

“When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.” (Matthew 6).

I feel I am empowered to act with integrity in secret because I know the love and presence of God is with me in all circumstances.

I’m always before the loving, encouraging ‘audience of One’.

For the professional footballers, it is the strength of their bonds to their team-mates, not to the crowds, that motivates them to play well and celebrate with passion.

Let’s be the same person in private as we are in public.

The Reverend Nick Allan is a minister at The Well Church, Ecclesall Road, Sharrow. See wellsheffield.com